Conflicts, in any relationship, are inevitable, especially in a small business setting. Working in close quarters to get your dream off the ground, there’s bound to be disagreements with your business partner. Rather than let that become an obstacle, and hinder your mutual desire to grow the business, it can be a good learning experience. We’ve put together some practical, easy to use tips to help you deal with business partner conflicts when they arise.
Having confidence in knowing that your ideas and thoughts are right is a great part of being a leader, but even as a leader you shouldn’t assume that your ideas are any better than the next person. Listening is a major component of the equation and something that is very hard to do when you’re convinced you’re right. In the heat of the moment, it’s very hard to take a beat to truly listen to what your partner has to say. It’s even harder if you completely disagree with what they are saying. Take a step back and actually listen and try to comprehend what your partner is saying, maybe from their idea, sparks a new idea that you both agree on. Or by taking a second to listen to them, it can help you formulate why you disagree with what they’re saying, or even to change your mind to their point of view. This is much easier said than done but will pay off in dividends if you can accomplish it.
Take a break
If listening just isn’t working, take a break from the discussion before it gets too heated. Take a quick walk around the block, distract yourself with another task, and come back to the conversation when you and your partner are in a calm mood. Sometimes the only thing you need to solve a problem is some distance from it. It will ensure that cooler heads prevail, and nothing is said in the heat of the moment that can’t be taken back.
Sometimes even though with the best of intentions, you say things you shouldn’t have. We all have, but it’s important to apologize, and quickly, with no strings attached in order to preserve your working relationship. Don’t give an apology expecting one in return, and don’t put the blame on you partner, or someone else for your actions or words. An apology needs to stand on its own for it to have any meaning.
Flag potential problems…before they become problems
If there is an area of the business that always triggers a disagreement, plan ahead. If doing inventory leads to conflict, acknowledge that before you go into the process with your partner, and accept that it’s an area of contention. Set ground rules that you both can abide by, and stick to them. When all else fails, just take a quick break from the situation.
Mediators can help
If your conflict escalates beyond a simple disagreement, call in a professional. They can help you work through your differences, and keep your relationship harmonious.
Having a business is incredibly rewarding, but like with any close working relationship, it can lead to disagreements. At the end of the day, when these differences arise, it’s important to remember you’re both there for the same reason—to build and grow your business. Keeping that in mind will help keep perspective, and keep your relationship healthy.